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UK to Consider Training Reaper Pilots
As the number of slots available to foreign allies at the US Air Force’s unmanned air vehicle training school continues to be limited, the UK is considering establishing its own domestic capability, ahead of a planned acquisition of a new fleet of remotely piloted aircraft.
Royal Air Force personnel are currently trained to operate the service’s 10-strong fleet of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Block 1 MQ-9 Reapers at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, but the USAF’s well-documented UAV pilot shortage has forced it to ration the slots available, prioritising its own needs.
The UK is due to purchase in excess of 20 new Reaper-derived Certifiable Predator B (CPB) UAVs, and is considering introducing its own training system to support this.The CPB is designed to fly in national airspace – something the UK is keen to be able to do – so it would be suitable for training to take place in the same area that it operates.
MQ-9 and MQ-1 training is provided by CAE. Gene Colabatistto, group president for defence and security, says that conversations are under way to help understand what the UK would require.
“The Protector will be based on an MQ-9, and at Holloman there are Royal Air Force officers there, both as instructors and as students,” he says. “But, the US Air Force is capacity-limited, and in general they have limited the number of available slots for international students.
“The UK does still have students there, but I believe what has provided impetus is that it has become clear that they will not be able to fulfil their needs through the US school.”
Colabatistto adds that ongoing conversations suggest that this need will be met through an indigenous capability, but it is not yet decided whether this will be primary, advanced, virtual or live training, or a mix.
“That is at a pre-bid stage,” he says, “but the [UK] government I believe is very much internally refining its requirements, and that will become a competitive procurement.
“As I understand it, the intent is to build an indigenous capability in the UK, because it is needed. I expect that we will see an RfP [request for proposals] later this calendar year, but we don’t know if that will be a draft or final version.”
Other operators of the MQ-9 are also considering their options in light of the USAF availability challenges. Italy has already acquired a zero flight simulator from CAE to carry out training domestically, which means that a live training fleet is not required in addition to the simulator-based capability.
CAE has also bid for UAV training work in the United Arab Emirates, for the Gulf nation’s future fleet of General Atomics Predator XP and unmanned Piaggio Aero P.1HH Hammerheads.
The company created a joint venture in the UAE to bid for C$145 million ($112 million) of work providing naval and rotorcraft training, which it won in June. It is using the same framework to offer the UAV training via a direct military sale. A bid was submitted in the first quarter of this year, Colabatistto says, and a decision is expected near the end of 2016.
Training will be provided to pilots with no prior experience, and there will be a crossover between the two new types that the nation is acquiring.
“It is very clever that the UAE has recognised that there is commonality between the training,” Colabatistto says. “The vision is that they will have a common training schedule.”
Italy operates the Predator and will soon operate the Hammerhead, but has not yet made a decision on its training requirements for the latter.
It has been predicted for some time that Rome may position itself as a training hub for UAVs, offering the simulator capability – plus available airspace – to other nations.
Contry: Great Britain
2016-12-01Last week a delegation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle experts from the United Kingdom met with industry leaders in California to highlight the United Kingdom’s regulatory leadership. The United Kingdom has sophisticated regulations governing the use of Unman
Last week a delegation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle experts from the United Kingdom met with industry leaders in California to highlight the United Kingdom’s regulatory leadership.
2016-10-19Industry Presents UAV Upgrades to UK Royal Navy
As the Royal Navy moves towards retiring its only unmanned air vehicle from service in 2017, industry has presented a number of upgrades to UK-operated systems to try and tempt the service into continuing operations with such technology.
2016-10-12RAF Wants British Weapons for Protector Fleet
The UK Royal Air Force remains confident that it will introduce British-made weapons onto its future Protector unmanned air vehicle, although a final decision on this element of the programme has yet to be made.
2016-08-28Student Designs Communications Drone for Disaster Relief
A college student at Staffordshire University in the UK has designed a disaster relief drone that will set up an emergency communications network.
2016-08-19New England Utility Flying High Over Drone Test
New England’s largest power provider may soon join the growing number of power utilities using drones to keep watch over their power lines.
2016-08-18Live Maps for Unmanned Air Systems in UK
Createc has been funded by the UK Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) to work on a software solution that can be easily incorporated into existing unmanned air systems (UAS) using only on-board passive sensors and a previous map.
2016-08-08British Firms Launch New Inspection Drone Solutions
One of the UK’s leading industrial training companies is joining forces with a key player in the growing construction/inspection drone industry.
2016-07-05Thales Gets UK £80M Watchkeeper Support Contract
The UK Ministry of Defence has awarded Thales a £80 million contract to deliver Support to the British Army’s combat proven Watchkeeper Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).
2016-06-26British Police Ramp Up Drone Purchases
British police agencies are keeping the “Game of Drones” alive and well as more departments deploy UAVs to fight crime and search for missing persons.
2016-06-21Leading UK Energy Firm Signs Up for UAS Inspections
Cyberhawk Innovations has secured significant works with FTSE 100 listed SSE Plc, one of the UK’s largest energy companies. The campaign, which began in May this year, will see Cyberhawk carry out close visual inspections of more than 600 blades using UAVs. Work will be completed across wind turbines at various SSE windfarms throughout Scotland, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.
13 Takeaways from The White House Workshop
13 Takeaways from The White House Workshop
2012-04-05 Hydrogen-powered Fuel Cell Flies ScanEagle